The glacial pace of the Squamish oceanfront picked up significantly last week when developers Matthews Southwest Developments (MSW) and Bethel Lands Corp. were selected by the SODC to develop the 59-acre oceanfront property.
The DOS and the pair of developers are aiming to hammer out an agreement by the middle of next year, and watching the video the SODC linked to the announcement on their website was interesting.
Sure, it’s 11 months old but it lays out plans for the land in a way that kind of makes you feel all fuzzy inside.
Yet, there’s one thing the slick video neglected to mention — the creation of a community performance venue.
The video lists 1,000 residential units (get ready to sell, real estate agents!) and more than 400,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. Sounds like a lot of potential space for new dollar stores in town, eh?
It also mentions an institution for higher learning and uses buzz words like “hub” a lot. Again, no mention of the proposed performing arts centre.
It’s really not until you look at the detailed sub-area plan that you see a photo of what the centre may look like, but there’s not a whole lot more information. Dig a little deeper into the phasing plans and it mentions that the centre will be completed in Phase 6 — or in about 20 years.
What on Earth are Squamish arts groups supposed to do in the meantime? That’s an entire generation that will have to survive on scraps and perform in the Eagle Eye Theatre and/or the Brackendale Art Gallery.
Both are fine venues, but Melissa Braun from the Squamish Academy of Music and Kathy Daniels from Between Shifts Theatre told The Chief in August that Squamish’s current facilities are holding so many young, talented people back.
Both groups often have to turn people away or schedule additional days to accommodate all of the people who want to see their performances. It’s far from an ideal situation.
As the video states, Squamish’s population is expected to increase to 20,000 people by 2020 and any local knows there are a ton of kids and young families. It’s these residents who may need some sort of centre to showcase their skills.
Residential units, retail and a university are all well and good, but why is it that the performance centre is last on the list to get developed? For the sake of the local arts community, the performance venue needs to be a priority.
I wouldn’t want to be the one to tell six- or seven-year-old dancers or actors that they won’t get the chance to perform in their hometown in a brand new centre.
They certainly won’t, but their kids will get the chance to… maybe.